Three Jake Gyllenhaal Football Movies
People scoffed when Variety first announced that Jake Gyllenhaal would be playing Joe Namath in a new movie. The kid from Bubble Boy? The Brokedown Mountain star as Broadway Joe? Impossible, they scoffed. They were right, but for the wrong reasons. With Southpaw (2015), Gyllenhaal proved his ability to play a pro athlete. On the other hand, Hollywood has shown a complete lack of competency in getting a Joe Namath movie made. First announced in 2007, the movie is still “in development” according to IMDB. Who knows if it will ever see the light of day?
A poor match for swarthy Joe Namath, fortune has favored Jake Gyllenhaal. A new crop of quarterbacks has emerged, and Gyllenhaal is a dead ringer for all of them. Lest this accidental resemblance go to waste, here are three football movies begging for a Jake Gyllenhaal performance.
Jake Gyllenhaal as Joe Flacco in A Cantata for Crackers
Joe Flacco, star quarterback for the Delaware Fightin’ Blue Hens, has never cared for anyone but himself and his precious stats. Even his girlfriend (Greta Gerwig) calls him “Joe Cool.” But that all changes when he is drafted by the Baltimore Ravens and meets “Shoeless” Joe Crackers (Vincent D’Onofrio).
As Flacco steps into the Ravens locker room for the first time, he sees a group of athletes taunting a dimwitted lineman.
“Hey Crackers,” they taunt. “Tell us about the rabbits again.” Crackers smiles shyly, too dumb to get the joke. “When we win Super Bowl, I’m gonna buy me a farm,” Crackers starts to explain, but when the rest of the team laughs, he realizes he is being ribbed and begins to grow angry.
“Hey guys, cut it out,” Flacco says, establishing a relationship that will change both men. “The Two Joes” are soon roommates and fast friends.
That friendship is put to the test when Crackers is diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy. The disease is quickly destroying Crackers’ brain, and Flacco is the only one to know the secret. There won’t be a dry eye in the house during the climax, when Crackers hallucinates that he is playing in the Super Bowl, while he is actually in an ICU unit in the hospital. Flacco returns to the Ravens, a little bit wiser, ready to win one for The Cracker.
Jake Gyllenhaal as Aaron Rodgers in Put Me In, Coach
When Aaron Rodgers is drafted by the Green Bay Packers, he thinks it is a dream come true. Instead it turns into his worst nightmare. Stuck on the bench for three seasons while top quarterback Brett Favre (Chris Hemsworth) takes all the glory, Rodgers becomes the team joke.
“Hey benchwarmer, why doncha make yourself useful and do some laundry?” Favre jests, tossing a jockstrap at Rodgers’ head. “Danggit,” Rodgers says, kicking his helmet, “when is it going to be my turn?”
But destiny is waiting in the wings: one day, while walking home with his girlfriend Junie (Maggie Gyllenhaal), Rodgers becomes entranced by a hopscotch game. The young girls are moving in a way Rodgers has never seen before, and now he is inspired. Picking up a discarded piece of chalk, Rodgers begins drawing a play on the sidewalk – an entirely new play. “Yes!” Rodgers exclaims, “If the offensive line blocks for an inside zone play…” He kept drawing… “and the QB gets a ‘keep’ read…it just might work!” “You could call it the play-option-pass” Junie says, adoringly. “It will revolutionize football!”
But the coaches are having none of it. After Rodgers draws the play on a blackboard in the team gym, they are not convinced. Worse, Brett Favre refuses to run the play. “It’s voodoo football!” he says.
Rodgers calls them all a bunch of dinosaurs, kicks his helmet, and runs out in tears. Later that night, as team owner “Pops” Cheapkowski (Fyvush Finkel) goes from room to room flicking off the lights, he happens to see the play still up on the blackboard. “This is genius,” he cries. Not long after, there is a big retirement ceremony for Brett Favre, and Aaron Rodgers is the new starting quarterback for the Green Bay Packers. Favre goes to the Jets for one season and SUCKS, the end.
Jake Gyllenhaal as Jay Cutler in Atlas Punted
Jay Cutler has it all: the star architecture student at Vanderbilt University, Cutler has the admiration of architecture fans, a bright future, and he is certain to beat his rival, Bickford (Ben Affleck), for the prestigious Sullivan Prize. If that wasn’t enough, Cutler is dating Cindy Lloyd Wright (Rosamund Pike), granddaughter of a famous architect and an absolute babe, even though she is a bit of an ice queen. But Jay Cutler has a secret. He actually prefers his hobby, football, to the architecture studies that make him popular.
“You’ll study architecture, and you’ll like it!” Cutler’s dad (Michael Ironside) often tells him. His girlfriend, Cindy, feels the same way. “Jay, I’m not going to date someone who throws an ovoid ball around for a living. My grandfather was Frank Lloyd Wright!”
The only one who supports Cutler’s football dreams is his mousy friend Jane (Lake Bell). But Cutler can’t help himself. He loves football. Finally, Cutler’s crusty but lovable architecture teacher (Judd Hirsch) solves the problem for him: even though Cutler’s submission for The Sullivan Prize is an obvious winner, Professor Blodge awards the victory to Bickford, enabling Cutler at last to quit architecture and concentrate on his true love, football. Cindy dumps Cutler and calls Bickford for a booty call. In a last minute surprise, mousy Jane, who supported Cutler all along, takes off her glasses, unties her hair, and is revealed as an absolute knockout. It looks like the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
Three movies, three Oscars, three instant classics. Gyllenhaal’s career will be renewed, and everyone will forget that time he played the gay cowboy. Or the Prince of Persia. Or the bubble boy. Or…